Voice of the Faithful, In the Vineyard

In This Issue:


Calendar Watch - January 6, 2002
The Boston Globe provides the first coverage of Fr. John Geoghan’s sexual abuse of the young; this story was followed by extensive reporting by the Globe’s Spotlight Team on a cover-up by the bishops of the Boston archdiocese.

January 15, 2005 - VOTF witness to USCCB Charter and Norms, proposed revisions:
VOTF calls on our bishops to strengthen the Charter in key areas and opposes self-auditing. In the Vineyard has been given a preview of the VOTF response by Task Force chair and VOTF vice-president Kris Ward.

[Also: the January 2005 issue of US Catholic cover story “Nothing But the Truth: The unfinished business of the sex-abuse crisis” features an illuminating interview with Justice Anne Burke, the outgoing interim chair of the National Review Board; it includes a prominent sidebar for the work of VOTF. See http://www.uscatholic.org]

July 2005 Indianapolis, IN Convention update:
The clock is ticking! As we go to press, we are six months away from Voice of the Faithful's Convention. Here’s what we know now: Dates – July 9-10; Place – Indianapolis, IN; Attendees – Catholics from far and wide; Outcome – increased energy and ideas for the road ahead. Read more.

A record number of nominations and willing candidates rewarded VOTF with the re-election of incumbents alongside a new secretary and new treasurer, giving VOTF’s executive “branch” a broader national profile.

Governance – How are we doing?
As readers know, VOTF is working toward a governance structure that will more adequately represent the national character of the movement. Both the Governance Committee and National Representative Council Steering Committee have been meeting to consider various governance structures – an update is included in this issue.

NEW***Officers' Forum
Bringing more readers into the fold and more members closer to leadership might be achieved, in part, by a new Vineyard column – the Officers’ Forum. Vineyard readers are invited to pose a question each month to one or all of our new officers. [Send your inquiries to pthorp.ed@votf.org and please use “Officers Forum” in your subject line.] We will choose the question that seems most representative of readers’ interest, direct the question to the appropriate officer and publish the response to that question in the following month’s Vineyard.

You can call the VOTF office with your Council questions; and there’s a new subscriber discussion group related to Goal #2.

Office News and Needs
VOTF is seeking a National Executive Director and an Office Manager. See details.

Church Finances in the News
What appears to be significant in recent developments around the country is the growing expectation of lay people in parish financial oversight.

National Working Groups
Priests’ Support Working Group continues to learn about the challenges in this ministry; the Survivor Support Community has an almost-new resource; and National Parish Voice is winning every time they take “Aimee’s program” on the road. “I think it has the potential to do more than anything else we’ve done so far to achieve VOTF’s goals.” Find out more.

National Representative Council meeting held in Greenwich, CT on December 11. Minutes will be posted on the web site; Joe O’Callaghan, former professor of Medieval History at Fordham University, NY and early leader of VOTF Bridgeport, CT, presented what has come to be called “The Bridgeport Proposal.” It is available to interested readers on the Bridgeport, CT web site.

[The January Representative Council will meet Saturday, January 15, 2005 at Our Lady Help of Christians, Newton, MA, 10 am.]

[Correction to December 2004 entry under National News: The third diocese in the US to file for bankruptcy is Spokane, WA not Seattle, WA as stated. Apologies to Seattle.]


Regional Events, Etc.
Boston College is like that Energizer bunny – they keep on running. Now you can study (no matter where you live!) online through innovative programs available non-credit; Taizé is a prayer tradition spreading across parish boundaries. Learn more.

Affiliate News
VOTF Louisville, KY reports, “We have now met in dialogue with about half of the diocesan priests of our Archdiocese, as well as a number of order priests.” VOTF Metuchen, NJ, Winchester, MA and Cleveland/Akron, OH also report.


VOTF lost one of its steadiest supporters with the death early this month of Bob Castagnola. Any VOTF member present in the early months of this movement will remember Bob’s voice and spirit – VOTF president Jim Post and others reflect on this memorable “companion of justice.”

VOTF member Jack Rakosky introduces readers to Childermas along with a proposal for monthly scripture readings. Childermas is the Old English name for Children’s Mass, the name given for Feast of the Holy Innocents, commemorated in the Latin tradition on December 28. This day remembers the story of Herod the Great’s attempt to destroy the child Jesus by slaughtering Bethlehem’s male children under the age of two.

January Book Review
Common Calling – The Laity and Governance of the Catholic Church, Stephen J. Pope, ed., (Georgetown University Press, Washington, DC, 2004)

Need to Know!

  • How can you register? Let us count the ways
  1. Online at http://www.votf.org/registration/print.html, print out the online form and mail it to the office address at VOTF, P.O. Box 423, Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464-0002
  2. Call the office at 617-558-5252 and we will mail you a registration form
  3. Visit our web site and see what new registrants will receive – www.votf.org
  • VOTF is happy to accept your donation online or by mail to VOTF, P.O. Box 423, Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464-0002
  • Correspondence to In the Vineyard can be emailed to Peggie Thorp at pthorp.ed@votf.org or mailed to Peggie Thorp, VOTF at the above address.
  • Warm thanks to Donna Doucette for her exemplary copy-editing skills. Donna has agreed to “toil In the Vineyard” as In the Vineyard copy editor for the foreseeable future.

    Voice of the Faithful, VOTF, "Keep the Faith, Change the Church,"
    Voice of Compassion, VOTF logo(s), Parish Voice, and
    Prayerful Voice are trademarks of Voice of the Faithful, Inc.

    Voice of the Faithful is a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt organization.

In the Vineyard
January 2005
Volume 4, Issue 1
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“Ever older, never aging.”
Motto on the city gate of Sofia, Bulgaria

We begin 2005 looking toward another chapter in our story, to be written alongside the new team of VOTF officers elected in December for one-year terms. VOTF has been extraordinarily blessed in the leadership provided to our young movement. We are immensely grateful to Ann Carroll and Sr. Betsy Conway for their tenures as treasurer and secretary, respectively, in 2004; and we continue our appreciation for the gifts of re-elected president Jim Post and vice president Kris Ward, now joined by our new secretary Gaile Pohlhaus and treasurer Julie Rafferty. We welcome their company and their skills.

This New Year also begins with a profound sense of appreciation and recommitment in the VOTF National office – appreciation for the heartwarming response to our year-end appeal and recommitment to the issues we first identified in 2002. With our record-breaking voter response to the VOTF national officer elections, it seems that 2005 will continue to draw both familiar and new voices into this vital community of engaged Catholics. As Jim Post says so often, “We have promises to keep.”

Among our “promises to keep” is the witness we bear in the pursuit of a healthier Church. To that end, VOTF formed a Charter Review Task Force, headed by vice-president Kris Ward, to oversee a communication to US bishops regarding proposed revisions to the USCCB Charter and Norms that the bishops had approved in 2002. Our Task Force met the January 15 deadline; we are grateful that Kris has provided readers of In the Vineyard with some background on the USCCB’s work as well as a preview of the VOTF report. This coverage appears under National News in this issue.

AND – the 2005 VOTF Convention is on track for Indianapolis, Indiana in July 2005! Contracts have been signed and we are beginning to develop a program and operational plans. If our many regional gatherings are any indication, readers and members will not want to miss this moment in the history we are making. As VOTF becomes a more prominent presence on the Catholic landscape, we are often called for lay reaction to events in our Church. One reaction is the upcoming July 9/10 VOTF convention – our second international gathering that will continue the Spirit-driven movement begun three years ago. With many new voices, new ideas and the same energy that has fueled our work all along, we will assess events that led to this bright and crowded crossroad, share what we’ve learned, and determine together the next leg of our journey. Be sure to watch your e-mailboxes and the VOTF web site for details as they emerge, as well as updates in this publication.

[YES, we are making history! Some of you might not have seen the Third Edition of A Documentary History of Religion in America (eds. Edwin Gaustad and Mark Noll). For over two decades, this text has been used extensively in colleges and graduate schools by teachers and students of American religious history. This newest edition includes generous coverage of Voice of the Faithful. Given that VOTF is barely three years old, the first edition of this documentary history dates to 1983 and Catholicism in America is five hundred years old, the message is pretty clear – we are having an impact!]

This year also begins with losses too massive to fathom in the staggering death toll brought on by the Indian Ocean tsunami. This issue’s Prayer and Reflection submission from member Jack Rakosky commemorates Childermas, so named in Old English; it is more familiar in the Latin Rite as the Feast of the Holy Innocents. It is appropriate that we dedicate this page of prayer to all the lives lost in southern Asia.

Finally, please write to In the Vineyard at pthorp.ed@votf.org. Your voice is our voice.

Peggie L. Thorp, ed.